AS PEOPLE continued to travel back to their hometowns for the Songkran Festival yesterday, it was revealed that 59 people were killed and 765 others injured in 723 road accidents in the first two days of so-called 'Seven dangerous days' of the traditional Thai New Year.
These figures were lower across-the-board than previous Songkran Festivals for the same two-day period, it was announced.
In Nakhon Ratchasima, also known as the gateway to the Northeast, a provincial transport office hiked the number of daily bus trips from 300 to 400 to support holidaymakers, as at least 30,000 people were expected to travel by bus in the province yesterday.
The Second Army Region's helicopter survey reported severe traffic jams along the Mitraparp Highway in the province's Pak Chong district.
At the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department's Road Safety Centre, national police assistant Maj-General Suweera Songmetta announced that the highest cumulative accidents and casualties were reported in Nakhon Ratchasima - with 36 accidents, 40 injuries and six deaths.
Samut Prakan and Amnat Charoen were the only two provinces with no reported road accidents.
On Friday alone, there were 399 accidents resulting in 34 deaths and 417 injuries nationwide, Suweera said.
Also on Friday, officials manning 2,251 checkpoints arrested 86,296 traffic law violators, most of whom had failed to present a driver's licence or had failed to wear a helmet or a seatbelt, he said.
Most accidents were the result of drunk driving (31 per cent) followed by speeding (25 per cent) and most took place from 4pm-8pm (28 per cent). Some 84 per cent of vehicles involved in accidents were motorcycles.
Suweera said police chief General Somyos Poompanmuang had urged law enforcers to strictly implement traffic laws and an alcohol sale ban along highways and secondary roads.
Metropolitan Police Bureau deputy chief Maj-General Adul Narongsak yesterday led a team to hand out road safety stickers and brochures, as well as care packages for drivers at a Bangkok tollway in Din Daeng.
Bangkok Governor MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra inspected a public service point on Borommaratchachonnani Road, where motorists heading out of Bangkok were given wet tissues, drinking water or coffee, as well as access to a car maintenance service. The city will operate six car maintenance service points until Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Army chief General Udomdej Sitabutr ordered all military units to exert their utmost effort to keep people safe during Songkran, Army deputy spokesperson Sirichan Ngathong said.
The Army has set up 243 public service points, which will operate around the clock until Thursday in a bid to minimise the number of road accidents and accommodate all travellers.
In related news, deputy police chief General Pongsapat Pongcharoen yesterday went to comedian Santi "Ter Chernyim" Sombat to take care of his Klong Sam Wa house as part of the "Leave your house with police during the Songkran festival" project.
The project, conducted from Friday until Thursday, aims to look after homes while the owners visit |relatives upcountry.
It includes an app that enables them to get photo updates from police.
More than 2,000 houses nationwide were registered for the scheme, with about half in Bangkok.